When I first began meditating, following my breath was really hard. I wasn’t used to feeling anything in my body, not even my breath. Sometimes, I would even stop breathing and not even realize I was holding my breath.
Mental noting the breath’s cadence by saying inwardly “in” and “out” helped me to get in touch with my breath in a helpful and neutral way. I was simply describing what was happening in the moment and allowing myself to feel the breath’s rhythm and body sensations. Over time, I noticed that only when I would be particularly unsettled when sitting down to meditate would I use this aid. Even now after many years I occasionally use this gentle guidance to bring me fully in touch in the moment.